Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Christmas 2016: Potholders, A Hot Plate and a Book

For this installment of "Christmas 2016" we have a gift for one of my sister-in-laws; two pot holders, a hot plate (basically an extra thick pot holder) and the gift of a book.

I was at the used store earlier this month and was just glancing at the craft section when I saw some what looked to be quilt blocks that someone had pre-cut and were all pinned together for sale.  I then did a quick mental check on what I'd seen and went, "Wait.  Who cuts batting when making quilt blocks?" because it was obvious there was batting in with the blocks.  So, I looked closer and stumbled onto a really nice find.  I found that someone had actually pre-cut out pot holders, complete with thermal reflective material in with the batting (that stuff ain't cheap!) and the blocks were on sale for .25 each!!!  I had been planning on making my sister-in-law some pot holders out of some thermal material I'd purchased on sale with a coupon on Jo-Ann Fabric's site a while back, but this was way cheaper, so I used my pocket change to pay for the pot holder blocks, got home and switched out the outer material to something that wasn't going to show food stains easily (I realized the mistake early on in my cooking career about buying light colored pot holders...they always look dirty!).  I put different fabric on either side so they were reversible (in case she didn't like one pattern I hoped I'd at least double my chances that she wouldn't mind ONE of them *laugh*).  I put some extra batting in with one pot holder (the one that has quilting like pie slices instead of the diagonal cross hatch design) to use for a hot plate or for things like moving a cast iron pan from oven to stove and such as I wanted to make sure she wouldn't burn her hand using them.

The outer material I cut from fabric I had been given to me, the quilt binding was left over from previous projects I'd done (and I think originally gifted to me by my step-mom).  So all totaled the project cost me .75 to do.

I don't have a picture of it, but I am throwing in a book Keeping the Harvest: Preserving Your Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs (Down-to-Earth Book) (associate link).  I got this as a good, basic beginner guide to canning, dehydrating and just general food preservation as my sister-in-law showed some interest in it earlier in the year.  I got mine used (you can get it for .01 used plus shipping) and used a gift card I got from redeeming Swagbucks to pay for it.  It's a good book that breaks down things like canning into simple to understand terms and steps.

Total time to make gift:  2 hours for the pot holders I'd say between sewing and cutting.  The book I think I spent about three hours on Amazon searching through reviews until I found the book I wanted to get.

Total cost to make gift:  .75 for the thermal reflective fabric squares.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Sorry this is so late.  Sunday I ended up having my daughter help clean the house all day (read:  Fought with daughter to get her to do her fair share all day) and yesterday we had my son's second allergy shot to get through in the morning (which went great) and then when I got home I ran into a problem.  I spent a good portion of the weekend washing my son's bedding, per usual, but when I walked into his room it smelled yesterday and it smelled bad.  Which meant that it was time to rip his race car bed apart, again, and deep clean the milk out of the nooks and crannies.  Until I can convince my husband to get my son a normal twin sized bed frame and a box spring (counter argument is my son loves his race car bed, which he does, but darn it it makes a lot more work for me) I'm sort of stuck with an arrangement that  just catches every little bit of liquid and puts it into locations within the bed and leads to problems and I have to figure out where in the frame the problems are every couple of months.  Not fun.

Since I wanted to make sure I could go over the entire thing with bleach water and it had time to dry out completely, I ran downstairs and dragged the old full sized mattress out of the den (yes, after all of these months it's still there...don't ask) and moved it into my son's room to put his current mattress on top of until I'm done cleaning his bed frame.  Which had me ranting more than  a few times about the lack of handles on mattresses as I drug it up the stairs.  Seriously those things are a pain to move bulk-wise.  After I was done rearranging everything, vacuuming the carpet about five times to make sure everything was nice and clean and then making dinner my arm was shot for the night, so I decided to put off blogging until today.  And here we are!  Don't worry.  I can still move my arm, although it is telling me it's there once in a while.

I ended up having to reschedule my physical due to a sick kiddo and lack of funds (our insurance doesn't cover labs and I know I'm going to need those after all this time and I'm still going to owe them the co-pay for my doctor's visit last week).   Hopefully by the middle of October, when I rescheduled it for, things will be improving money-wise and I can afford to go and get the physical done.  Frustrating, but that's life.  Right now I'll be happy if I can make my mortgage payment on time.  Darned medical things really threw the finances into a tizzy this month.

The cider didn't get canned this week, the hallway closet got looked at a lot by me and then I'd close it and think, "Man, I'll get to that later" and that's about as far as I got.  The Halloween decorations are being held captive until my daughter starts doing what she is supposed to do instead of ignoring me and doing whatever the Heck she wants and just figuring she'll skate through the consequences (she does not realize that she will NOT win this war), so that didn't get done either.  Well, at least the oil got changed on the car.  Bright side of a very long, very exhausting...did I mention long...week.

So, what did I actually do this week?  Well, I went to the used stores a lot trying to find furniture as my loveseat and couch are now shredding anywhere there isn't a patch on them, and in the case of the loveseat it is actually shredding under the patches too, so the patches are popping seams it's getting so bad.  I could never find anything close to my budget that the furniture was worth getting (read free or as close to as possible), so this week and probably part of next month are going to see me trying to figure out what to do with my old and falling apart furniture to make them last longer without looking completely awful.  It's going to be challenging for sure, but realistically that's the only option I can really see working at this point.  We just plain don't have the money to throw at furniture right now and throwing blankets or something over the furniture lasts for four minutes until my son sees the blanket and then said blanket gets dragged off to his room and that's the end of that. 

I did get one Christmas gift done this week (seen up top.  I'll give a break down on the gift in the next post) and got my pantry reorganized and most of the food from the den put away in it so it is a lot easier to find things.  I got part of my laundry room organized and am working on finding room in it to help clean out the hallway closet upstairs (it's like organizational dominoes when you have to find room, I swear) and other side projects as I ran into them, but yeah...most of last week's list didn't get done.

So, onto this week's goals!

Cleaning Goals:

  • Clean son's race car bed from top to bottom.  Try to find a way to boost up his mattress about two inches in the frame so he doesn't have to worry about pushing himself over the top of the bed frame to get out of bed (it annoys me and him).
  • Shampoo the carpet under where the race car bed goes (it needs it again)
  • Clean out one half of daughter's closet and move dresser into closet to afford her more floor space (we're ripping the TV out of her room as she just gets too distracted by it to do things, so I don't need to have the dresser taking up a whole corner of her room).
  • Reorganize hallway closet.  Try and find some scrap wood to use as shelf bracers on one side of shelves (they collapse if not completely balanced due to a lack of bracers on one side) and get shelves organized better.
  • Set up small bookcase outside of bathroom to use for towels and washcloths (need the hallway closet cleaned out and reorganized before I can do that bit).

Canning Goals:

  • IF up to it mull and can apple cider (I'm coming down with a cold on top of everything *sigh*)

General Goals:

  • Put up fall decorations if daughter stops acting up.
  • Get through son's second allergy appointment (done!)
  • Get quotes for winter tires for car
  • Use heating pad on arm three times a day (it really helps when I do that) and continue to stretch the arm and work it.
  • Cut son's hair with husband's help (basically we hold him down and sheer him with some hair clippers.  It's not fun, but he is starting to look like a lost Cassidy brother, so it's time).

And there you are folks.  My goals this week, lofty though they are.  How about you?  Got anything planned?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, it's been an eventful week.   A silver lining type of week, really.

For instance, Tuesday night my arm seized up worse than it ever had before and it was so weak the next day and hurting I went back to the doctors worried I'd done something really bad this time.  Since my normal doctor was out that day, I saw another doctor, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.  He examined me and came to the same diagnosis as my doctor, but suspected that I also had what is called "frozen shoulder syndrome".  Basically it's when all the tissues in your shoulder just kind of seize up and don't want to move and he really felt bad for me as recovering from it is usually long and painful and with lots of physical therapy.  I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I don't mind pain and hard work.  I can do that.  The lack of mobility I can't tolerate though."  And I meant it.  So I went home on his recommendation and looked up "frozen shoulder syndrome".  When I saw what it was and what causes it (in most cases they have no idea) and that basically you go to physical therapy to try and get mobility back as much as you can in your shoulder, but the only surgery available to treat it is they basically knock you out and then make your shoulder move and just deal with the damage involved.  So, I was like, "Okay, so basically move it a lot.  Got it."  I then looked up stretches to do for frozen shoulder syndrome, which were completely different then the bicep tendonitis stretches and started doing those.  It hurt, but it is working.  Really really well.  Like 48 hours later and I have about 85% of the mobility back in my arm and am able to sleep at night (as much as I get to sleep anyway *laugh*) again type of well.  So, so glad I spent the money to go back to the doctor, even if we really couldn't afford it.

Then, my son ended up with a stomach issue yesterday and had to stay home.  I'm not really sure if he had a stomach bug or if there was just something on his stomach that didn't agree with him, but after he finally got that out of him he did fine.  The best part was when he was feeling better and grabbed his talker and asked for a ride (in my husband's car, which wasn't going to happen, but still asking for a ride is good), coke and he wanted his sister (which I think he wanted to just be done with chores for the day).  Since my husband wasn't going to be able to pick up my daughter and I still wasn't sure of the state of my son's stomach, I ran while I knew he was feeling good and got him coke at a nearby drive thru and then ran and got his sister from school a little bit early.  It was really thrilling for me, though, as that's the first time he's expressed more than one want at a time since he started on LAMP.  So, once again, a definite silver lining to an otherwise worrisome day :).

So, let's get on with the rest of my money saving adventures this week!

1.  I went shopping today and while I spent 100.00 on groceries, I did it with good purpose.  Carrs has some awesome sales this week on things I wanted to get for the pantry and such.  For instance, they have Lindsay olives on sale (at least at the Carrs I shop at) for 1.00 per can, so I bought 8 as that is cheaper, by far than buying them at the bulk store right now (and we were out).  And they had cream of mushroom soup on sale for .75 a can, so I got 12 cans (it is going for 1.99 a can anymore and, once again, we were out of it).  And they have an E-Coupon you can load this week that you can get Lucerne ice cream for 1.49 per not-quite-a-half-gallon (since product shrinkage), maximum of two.  They also have butter on sale for 2.99 per lb (limit of 2 on the coupon), eggs for 1.25 for a dozen (I got a dozen with plans to make chicken salad this weekend for lunches) with a coupon and pasta for .75 per box (no coupon needed for that).  And they had decent sized bottles of olive oil for 5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday today, so I got one more bottle to help pad out my stores.  While there I got my free Starbucks Refresher with my coupon (seen above).  The passion fruit flavor was the only type they had left and I have to admit I didn't really like it.  I did drink it though.  Free is free ;).

I ran to Fred Meyer but wasn't able to find the right size of Swedish Fish that was on Freebie Friday today (blah) or my other freebie I had there, but I did get some cheap Velveeta with a paper coupon that I got from the fliers my friend sent me and an E-Coupon I had loaded onto my card for 1.00 off the Velveeta mini-cubes.  Normally it would be more pricey than buying a block of Velveeta, but it is on sale and after the coupons it was a lot cheaper than buying a block of Velveeta per oz.  I like to have it around to melt over frozen veggies during the wintertime or to make baked mac and cheese so I was thrilled to get it in nice wrapped blocks too as we don't really go through much at a sitting so it'll help stop it from drying out on me :).

I was also able to get some clearance imported green olives for 1.69 for a jar.  Since my son loves the garlic stuffed olives, I thought maybe to try him on those and see what he thinks of them. 

Really I thought I did pretty good on shopping.  Yes, I didn't stick with the "don't spend money" rule that I was hoping for, but I filled up the pantry with more food and that, to me, is definitely worth the additional investment and I'll catch up with saving money on groceries later on (like next week is going to be super tight with the mortgage getting paid, so week is going to be sparse for groceries).

2.  Dividend amounts for the PFD came out today.  Sure enough, I'm glad I was planning on a really reduced amount for them thanks to our razam frazam governor and his fiscal plan to wreck our state.  At least I budgeted it out carefully so one chunk of dental bills (due in December or penalties ensue) and hopefully winter tires for my car will be paid out of what we get.  Here's hoping anyway (if not I'll at least be close).

3.  I made meals at home as much as I could this week.  Unfortunately due to my doctor visit we did have to eat out at least once since my appointment was late and then the doctor was running late so it took forever to get in and it was way past dinner time by the time I got done, but overall I did pretty good all things considered this week.

4.  I got the oil changed on my car this week.  We have life time oil changes on the vehicle.  Since paying off the car a couple of years ago the lifetime oil changes have definitely been nice to have.  While there I took advantage of free coffee and sat and relaxed while my oil was changed (they have a nice waiting area with really good coffee since I get the oil changed at the dealership *laugh*).

5.  I mended...well rebuilt of my son's shoes with shoe goo this week.  One of the seams on the outside of the sneakers was faulty and just went on both shoes, so I fixed it so the shoe wouldn't come completely apart.  Shoe Goo has saved me so much money over the years.  Wonderful invention!

6.  I mended a hole in my daughter's shirt this week.

7,  I've been watching some of my favorite programs on You Tube this week.  I don't think having good internet bandwidth restrictions is ever going to get old for me *laugh*.

8.  I worked on Christmas gifts on and off this week and hope to have one more done by the weekend is over.  Here's hoping anyway :).

9.  I inadvertently saved money on paper towels this week.  When I ran out upstairs, I just plain kept forgetting to haul more upstairs.  This led to more of a use of cloth napkins, me using dish towels for slop rags a lot more (my husband and daughter tend to spill a lot) and basically saved money just because of my absentmindedness.  So, yay for being distracted ;).

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Menu Plan Monday: Menu Plan for Week of 9/20/16

Right, so I'm blogging a day behind, but not a dollar short so far ;).

Completely unrelated to the menu plan for the week, well except maybe I'll make some crescent rolls for my daughter to slather with butter for breakfast one morning or something, but anyway I found out this little historical tidbit and thought it was utterly fascinating so I wanted to share!

So you know how croissants have the crescent moon type of shape to them when you buy them now a days (or bake them if you are a more involved baker than me)?  Well, the shape of the croissant hasn't always been that way.  Before WWII croissants were normally straight, not curved.  But, during WWII, due to butter rationing, the baker's tried to find a way to show what was used to make the croissants, butter or margarine.  So, they started curving the croissants before baking to show they were made with margarine and the shape just stuck to this day.  Neat huh? 

By the way, the source is Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking:  Volume 2".  There's a bunch of neat things in that book, including that *laugh*.

Anyway, back to the menu.  This week's menu is going to be kind of interesting as it is using up some meat from the freezer that has gotten freezer burned (some of it not that old, which kind of concerns me actually) and also just trying for some variety in the menu as I fear getting into a rut, especially with my arm not up to fullest capacity (I have gotten it to stretch about 3/4 of the way over my head now, though, so making progress!).  We're expecting the results of a hurricane-like storm system hitting the Baltic Sea tonight and tomorrow, so I'm figuring rain and nasty winds speaks "comfort food" like nothing else!

Menu Plan for Week 9/20/16

Monday:  Noodle Bowl Night

Tuesday:  Marinated Steak/Beef Roast (freezer burned thick cut petite sirloin steaks cooked in steak sauce, essentially), steamed broccoli and cauliflower, rice

Wednesday:  Fried Chicken (this always seems to pop up on the menu plan and then I don't do it.  This week it's in the fridge marinating in butter milk right now, so yay for finally making it *laugh*), corn bread, baked beans.

Thursday:  Shepherd's Pie (use leftover steak)

Friday:  French Toast, bacon, eggs

Saturday:  Codfish Casserole (use tilapia from freezer), garlic toast, green beans

Sunday:  Fauxtisserie Chicken (experiment time!), stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy (for daughter unit to inspire her to eat more), glazed carrots

Desserts:  Apple crisp (didn't get done last week either), banana bread
To Bake/Prepare:  Prepare chicken for frying (Tuesday, done!), bake bread (Wednesday), bake banana bread (Tuesday)

And there you go folks.  My menu for this week.  How about you?  Making anything yummy this week?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Looking at my monthly goals list I'm actually quite proud of myself as I've gotten a LOT of it done and I still have about ten days left in the month.  Woohoo!

So, the last two weeks have seen us celebrate my son's birthday, go to fall festival (both worked out fabulously of which I'm very happy) and I got my peas cut off and disposed of and the garden worked as much as it's going to be until Spring.  I have finished, not just three, but four Christmas gifts so far this month (double woohoo!) and have more in the works (mainly ideas at this point, but getting to fruition :).

I deep cleaned the baseboard heaters and we've actually had to fire them up more than once the last little bit, which is early (and sad), but sometimes that's just the way it is.  I've been slowly getting caught up on housework as well and hope to sometime soon be able to once again live by a cleaning schedule and keep the house kept up.  My arm is slowly but surely getting better.  I froze the last of the peas from the garden, but only after munching happily on them for over a week and using them in several dishes for dinner as well.

I tried to dehydrate the russet potatoes I'd gotten really cheap, only to find when I cut them open that while they looked fine on the outside that they were actually rotten inside.  I was not a happy camper.  I managed to get enough good potatoes out of the bag to make mashed potatoes night before last and that was it.  Lesson learned.  Stick with locally sourced potatoes.

So, onto this week's goals!

Miscellaneous Goals (I'm just kind of lumping everything together this week as I'm tired).
  • Mull and can apple cider.
  • Get oil changed on car (we're way overdo).
  • Get physical done (I haven't had one in...well let's just say I'm wayyyyy overdo for one so I'm taking advantage of the insurance to get some maintenance done cheap).
  • Work on Christmas gifts
  • Start to deep clean rooms, scrub walls and get ready to shampoo carpets later (this is going to be a SLOW process to keep my arm from getting overworked, but it needs to be done badly).
  • Dig out fall and Halloween decorations before daughter drives me crazy and prepare to put those up.
  • Spend as little on groceries as possible to save money for bills in the coming weeks (we should be fine as we're good and stocked up on a bunch now, but still is good to write it down).
  • Once cider is mulled and canned, put up canner and canning supplies up for winter.
  • Organize hallway closet better and try to figure out something to store towels and other bathroom items in that we can actually PUT in the bathrooms instead of having things scattered to the four winds.
And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Decorative Box and a Mermaid Tail Blanket

First, I haven't forgotten the goals update.  I'll get to them tomorrow since Christmas gifts were part of my goals *laugh*.

So, for this installment of "Things Erika is Making for Christmas" we have two gifts that I made this week.

First up is a decorative box for my junior high aged niece.  She's kind of that age where I'm not really sure what to make for her, so I figured a decorative box to store jewelry or trinkets in wouldn't be a bad gift.

I started out with a heart shaped wooden box I found at the used store a while back for .50.  It was finished, but not great, lots of rough wood could be felt through the simple clear glaze they applied, so I figured it would be really easy to paint over since the finish was already so rough to begin with (and hey I was right!).
I used acrylic paints I had around here from previous projects and for design inspiration I looked up Swedish stencil designs on Pinterest and just made up my own design with similar elements throughout the box.  I then, once the various coats of acrylic were applied and dried, took some Modge Podge I had around here and added a layer of clear coat over the entire box.  I thought it turned out really good myself, especially since all of the designs you see are completely freehand, no advance pencil or pen work would have done me any good with the dark grey undertone, so I didn't bother *laugh*.

Total time to make the gift:  Well, that's kind of hard one.  I put two coats of acrylic for an "underglaze" and I waited in between coats at least 24 hours to make sure everything was well set and dried before applying another coat.  I did the design elements as they came to me throughout a day of work, taking breaks in between to think and do housework.  Another 10 minutes or so of touch ups toward the end of the work and then about 10 minutes for the Modge Podge to be applied and another couple of hours to dry.  Eh...we'll call it about 4 hours total of work on the actual project overall :).

Total cost to make gift:  .50 for the wooden box earlier in the year.
Next up is a gift for my baby niece.  My sister-in-law had asked her mother-in-law to make her a mermaid tail crocheted blanket on Facebook a while back before the baby was born, but her mother-in-law basically said, "Um, no beyond my ability" (it was super intricate looking to my not-great-at-crochet eye).  I kept that thought in the back of my head though and when it came to Christmas gifts thought I'd give a shot at sewing one.

The final results are above there.  I made the main body out of a light blue fleece remnant I've had for a long time and then used some really thin, but super soft, flannel that I'd gotten I think at Wal-Mart years ago for super cheap for the tail.   I used batting in the tail to help shore up the material as it is really thin material.

For the actual tail part I kept going back and forth trying to figure out a way to secure the tail fins, but let the tail be able to be opened so that mama could change baby/toddler (this blanket should fit the kiddo for a while), but nothing I tried really worked great, unfortunately.  So, I finally compromised, made a tapered tube shape for the main tail and only sewed it up from the bottom tail fin up about half way and then just left the sides open so that mama can open said blanket up to change the baby/toddler via mama judo (as I like to call it).  I made the tail fin pattern just by drawing out a basic shape on a piece of paper (using the entire length and pretty much all the width of a normal piece of computer paper) and then when I cut it out of fabric I eyeballed about 1/2 an inch onto the main pattern for a seam allowance.  It worked great I have to say and the fins are actually pretty much the exact same!  If you do this, just remember to cut out two pieces (the front and back for one piece) out and then flip the paper pattern over to cut out the other two so that you end up with opposite facing fins :).

I used some pink quilt binding to bind the top of the blanket to one, make sure that the curved edge I put on the top wouldn't be too hard to keep up (I figured if I folded it over to make a 1/2 fold over that the edge would start to suffer a bit) and also to just add some more pink to the blanket and tie the body into the tail better.

Total time to make gift:  If I count time thinking about a way to make a super awesome baby mermaid blanket counted, probably about 80 hours, but for actual time to make I'd say about 3 hours overall as it did take some tweaking to get it where I could live with it.

Total cost to make gift:  Nothing as I had all of the materials around here.

So there we go!  Two more gifts down!  More to go :).

Friday, September 16, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, for those who have e-mailed me and asked what happened to my monthly goals update and weekly goals this last week....ummmmmmm...oops?  I completely spaced posting about them.  Whoopsie.  I wrote them down via pen and pad and just figured I was good *laugh*.  Don't worry I'll recap this weekend.  Can't tell I'm not sleeping well can you?

Anyway, onto this week's money saving endeavors!

1.  I ended up going shopping today because we were still really tight on money this week due to my husband's doctor visit (and a subsequent follow up visit yesterday as his cough is still bad...he's now on another type of inhaler, an oral steroid to help control cough and a cough medicine.  At least his lungs are clear now, so that was an's his asthma that is giving him fits now), bills coming due and just general stuff.

Highlights of today's shopping trip were awesome (sorry for lack of pictures, but my kitchen table is terrible right now and I didn't have time to clean it off before jetting out the door again).  I got some coupons in the mail from a friend and went to the store armed with them in the hopes of getting some things cheap.  First I went to Fred Meyer and got the free cat treats from today (fail in a way as the new Sheba meat stick things my cats don't like, but at least it was free to try).  I managed to get cheap Children's Zyrtec by finding 24 caplets reduced down to 9.69.  I had a 3.00/1 coupon from the mailed fliers, so I grabbed 24 caplets for 6.69!!!  Since my daughter is once again having to take Zyrtec everyday to avoid eczema with the trees in full force and mold and everything, these will definitely come in handy, especially for that price.  I also found two half gallons of 2% milk on reduced for a little over a dollar a piece, so I got a gallon of milk for about 2.00.  And I got some more marked down apples for 1.00 (I just got enough to pad out apple crisp for dessert tomorrow night :).  Fred Meyer also has some cereal marked down to 3 for 5.00 this week as part of their anniversary sale and I remembered that the cocoa crispies (or equivalent anyway) were pretty good (the cereal is an all natural brand, so it gets KIND of iffy on taste sometimes with those), so I bought three boxes, which will come in handy for a treat for breakfast in the coming weeks.  I also bought one box of their Cinnamon Toast Crunch equivalent to try and see how it tastes.  If it tastes good we'll probably just eat it dry for a snack instead of popcorn one night during movie time.

I then went to Carrs and stocked up on cat litter (it was on sale for 5.00 today as part of 5.00 Fridays).  My husband convinced me a while back to just buy four when it goes on sale as that'll get me through to the next time it is on sale for cheap and it has really saved me a lot of money in the long run doing it that way, so I went and did that again.  I was also able to get Eckrich smoked sausages cheap.  Carrs has them marked down to 2.00 a piece and I had a buy one get one free coupon, so I managed to get them for 1.00 a piece!  Now that is cheap meat :).  I spent a total of 62.00 on groceries this week, which I thought was pretty good since 20.00 of that was the cat litter.

2.  My husband and I took the kids to the Fall Festival Event today at our local U-Pick farm.  Today is actually the day before the "big" event (which is always jammed packed full of people), but today was free for special needs children and their families compared to 25.00 to get in tomorrow.  It was a LOT less crowded, very laid back, the volunteers were awesome and the kids had a great time.  My son especially loved climbing all over the farm equipment, suckering the farm hands into giving him multiple hay rides with the tractor and just generally running around like a maniac.  He also REALLY liked the leaf pool (him playing in it seen up top there).  He kind of buried himself in the leaves and found zen.  It was really cute.

My daughter went and charmed her way through all of the games and managed to weasel a prize from each of the volunteers at the booths as she did the games.  Cracked me up really as she'd also always ask if she could have an extra prize for her brother as he wasn't too interested in working the games himself.  She's such a good big sister :).

In short, I'm really glad my husband dragged himself there even though he wasn't feeling that great still to do that with us as with my bum arm I wasn't sure if I could handle the kids without him.

3.  I finished another Christmas gift and have another one in the works (more on that later) using materials I had around the house. 

4.  I spent most of the week trying to get the housework somewhat caught up after being down with my arm for so long.  I finally have gotten to a point where "use it or lose it" with my arm.  Doing 100% everything the doctor told me to was actually making my arm hurt worse and I was losing mobility every day with it, so I got fed up and figured my arm wasn't going to snap off if I started to work it.  I'm up to lifting things with the arm again...or was...until my son made me sleep upstairs again and he hit me with his bottle at 2am, making me sit bolt upright and my arm did something it shouldn't have so now it's doing spasms again.  Ugh.  At least I know I can get it where it works if I just do a little bit at a time and keep pushing a LITTLE bit by little bit.

5.  I managed to start finding the fall decorations and putting away the summer ones.  I've used the same fall decorations for years and if we feel a need to add something my daughter and I make it out of materials we have around the house (or try to).  It's fun to do it that way and doesn't cost anything to do :).

6.  Kind of a frugal fail, but after night before last where my son was up all night long and me reaming my arm during the night, yesterday I was utterly miserable.  My arm out and out hurt, I was exhausted and I had a migraine from both of the above things effecting me adversely.  So, I actually asked my husband if we could just go and get dinner at McDonalds, keep the kids happy and call it good.  Not the most frugal thing to do, but it gave me a very necessary break and I did compromise with myself a bit and ate my husband's leftovers from lunch for dinner myself, so I saved us the cost of one meal at McDonalds.

7.  I filled up two big boxes with donations for the used store.  I have been trying to get rid of things that while I might think they are neat looking and all if they get in the way, or worse if I haven't used them at all in two years, they are on the chopping block to go or at least have me consider sending them to find a new owner.  I feel good when I do this.  My dad was a hoarder of everything you can imagine, so I really make a conscious effort to not go down that road (she says as she stacks food in her den *laugh*).  I also make a point to donate my plastic shopping bags to them as well as they can use them for checking people out (of course) and I figure this is the best possible way to recycle as it saves the bags from having to go to a plant before going back into circulation :).

8.  I clipped the cat's claws and cleaned their teeth good this week.  I've been doing chores like that for years and it has always paid off compared to having someone do it for me.  Once my arm recovers it'll definitely be time to give them a bath too as they are shedding to grow in their winter coats.

And yeah...I'm sure there is more that I'm missing, but those are the major things I can remember from this week.  How did you do?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Baked Pancakes (Square Pancakes)

Right, so say you have pancakes on your menu plan.  Say you spend all day cleaning and organizing and the last thing you really want to do is stand over a stove flipping flap jacks for the next 30 minutes.  Behold, the ultimate form of lazy dinner!  The baked pancake, or square pancakes.

I had this epiphany last night when I was just wiped out after cleaning all day and really didn't want to flip pancakes because my arm ached and since I have to do all of my cooking on my back burners for safety with my son, I didn't really want to sit there and stabilize a pan with my aching arm.  So, I punted and came up with this idea.

Turns out AFTER I made dinner and everything that I looked online and this was far from an original idea, so at least I can feel a bit better about my laziness *laugh*.  Although my husband looked at it on the table and absolutely refused to call them pancakes since they never really came in contact with a pan.  So, I suppose you could call these "baking dish cakes" but that would be a weird one to try and look up online ;).

So, here you go folks.  The next time you want pancakes, but don't want to actually fry them, try this.  It makes a nice fluffy pancake, in a square and they are all ready at the same time.

Baked Pancakes/Square Pancakes

 You will need:
  • 1 recipe for your favorite pancakes (I used Bisquick I'll admit it)
  • 9x13 baking dish
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Procedure (if there really IS one to this)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  Coat 9x13 pan with cooking spray (or you can grease it with whatever grease you like with your pancakes.

3.  Make pancake batter.

4.  Pour into Baking Dish.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester (butter knife or toothpick) comes out clean.

I added 1/2 cup of dehydrated blueberries to the batter before pouring it into the baking dish.  The blueberries came out perfect and no blue batter this way :).

Oh and if you want to make it really easy?  Throw some bacon onto some cookie cooling racks set on a lipped cookie sheet (jelly roll pan) and throw those in the oven at the same time as your pancakes.  Dinner prep is nill and dinner is done in 20 to 25 minutes.  You're welcome.

Enjoy a lazy dinner idea that actually is rather filling.  And easy.  Did I mention easy?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 9/12/16

Yay!  I finally found the motivation to do a menu plan again for this week.  It's been hard to do much of anything with how tired I am.  Sleeping becomes problematic when you can't roll onto your sides without your arm hurting and you are naturally a side sleeper.  Combine that with a kid that doesn't sleep and it's amazing that I remember to breathe. 

Anyway, here's this week's menu plan!

Menu for Week of 9/12/16

Monday:  Leftovers night (choice of pizza or chicken and dumplings stew)

Tuesday:  Blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs

Wednesday:  Pan fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans

Thursday:  Meatball subs with choice of red sauce or white sauce

Friday:  Baked garlic Parmesan chicken, rice pilaf, broccoli in cheese sauce

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Pizza night (use leftover red sauce from meatball sub night)

To Bake:  Rolls (for Thursday), bread, pizza crust (Sunday)

Desserts:  Apple crisp, pudding, root beer floats (also make ginger ale syrup for drinks)

So, there you are folks.  My menu for this week.  How about you?  Having anything yummy this week?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Pillowcase Dress and a Key Case

Well, I managed to, so far (I'm hoping to finish up one more gift today, but it's still iffy) get two gifts completely done this week, so yay for progress!  I really need to start upping my game or I could very well find myself scrambling come Christmastime, so I was happy to at least accomplish what I have so far this week.

First up I made a pillowcase dress for one of my nieces.  I had found a really beautiful, and super soft, cotton king sized pillowcase at the used store for .50 a long while ago and wanted to make something pretty out of it, so I figured...well a pillowcase dress is made out of a pillowcase traditionally so why not right? 

I have researched for MONTHS to try and find a user friendly tutorial to use to make a pillowcase dress.  I could find tons that gave you length and width directions for material, but not one on how to make one out of an actual pillowcase.  And then there were the arm holes, which NO ONE gave you any good guides on how big to make the arm holes or how to do them.  They always wanted you to measure the child for whom you were making the dress for...which when you are making said dress as a gift doesn't really work too great.  So, I finally, after a LOT of tutorials, found THIS ONE which is the most user friendly and easiest tutorial I've found to date and gives you guidelines on all measurements, including the arm holes and how to finish the arm holes easily and so forth.  I did make my dress slightly bigger than the size I was figuring because it seemed awful short when I looked at it, but I figure if nothing else it can be used a shirt if my measurements were off or something (so hard to measure little kid sizes when you are in the same size of a shirt as your eight year old at the current time.  Little kid sizes are so TINY after that).

Total time to make the dress was about an hour start to finish and the majority of that time, believe it or not, was getting the ribbon threaded.  The tutorial was super easy to follow and since I was using a pillowcase my edges were nice and neat and finished before I even began cutting.  That saved me a lot of time :).

Total cost to make dress was .50 for the original pillowcase, but I've had it for at least a year or so, so I didn't have to spend anything out of pocket now to make it.

Next up is a key case.  I got this in a kit at the used store ages ago for .50 (I think...the kit might actually have been given to me, but it did have a break away tag with .50 on it, so I ASSUME I got it at the used store at some's that old *laugh*).  Originally I was figuring, since it holds four keys, that it might be a good thing to give to my nephew so he could carry some keys without them poking into him (thus the point of the case), but I'm not sure once I made it as it didn't have sub pouches or anything like I thought it would.  It just holds four keys and that's it in a kind of tool roll type of application.  I think I might end up giving it to my husband to put some keys in and then he can store it in his briefcase.   I think it turned out cute, anyway (I did end up neatening up the threading in case any self respecting cub scout is looking at that and making gagging noises ;).

Total cost to make would be .50 for the original kit, which the only way I knew that was because the price tag was still on it *laugh*.  I have no idea when I originally picked this kit up, so I'm just going to say it cost me nothing out of pocket to make as I didn't spend anything NOW to make it.

Total time to make was about an hour and the majority of that time was trying again and again to figure out the stupid directions that came with the kit that made no sense.  When I finally just used logic and threw the directions away it took about 15 minutes to thread it all up correctly.

So, two more gifts done.  Lots more to go!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Fall is definitely here and in a big way.  Last night we were actually looking at potentially having freezing temperatures (I haven't looked for the actuals...I don't want to know *laugh*).  I went out yesterday, cut off the peas and cleaned up the trellis materials and things.  Which, by the way, do NOT pull up a fiberglass stake that you buy to use as a short trellis instead of a wooden dowel because it's all you can find with your bare hands.  I'm still pulling fiberglass chards out of my left hand (like the poor left side of my body needed me to do anything else to it *sigh*).  I just didn't think about it when I did it because it looks like a plastic rod.  I forgot that it was fiberglass.  Duuuuhhhhh!!!!

Downside was that I left some peas on the vine hoping that they would dry out and I could collect the seeds only to find them completely overtaken by powdery mildew.  I cracked them open to find mold inside with bits of things that used to resemble peas.  So much for that hope.  It's just been too wet this year for that I guess.  Bright side, by keeping up on top of the other peas as they grew I didn't lose any peas except for the ones I was trying to get to grow and harvest seeds from.

This week has seen me TRYING to rest my arm as much as I can, but unfortunately that didn't get to happen as much as I would have liked.  Mainly because of a sick husband who couldn't do much once he dragged himself home from work and a son who is JUST sick enough still to make the Grinch look like a cheerful guy.  At least we were able to go out today and go for a drive in the sun (the blessed live giving sun, of which I was so happy to see!) and that cheered him up for a bit.

So, onto the money saving endeavors for the week!

1.  I had to go to the bank yesterday to deposit my husband's paycheck so while I was out I stopped off at Fred Meyer and got some of my freebies from Freebie Friday.  My friend gave me the ones she had as well, so I grabbed those too.  Fred Meyer was out of the Carmex that was part of the Freebie Friday deal, so I asked if they could possibly substitute out the one type of Carmex they had left that was the same price.  The manager agreed and just gave the chap stick to me for free instead.  I was happy they were willing to do that as chap stick is something my daughter especially just blows through during the winter months. 

I was on Fred Meyer's site last Friday to load the Yoplait coupon and found a coupon on there for a free goodness knows bar.  I actually spent more time than I should have looking for them, but finally found them and grabbed one.  I'll have to eat it while my son isn't around since it has peanuts in it, but it still sounds like it'll taste good.

I also stopped off at Carrs, now that we had this thing called "money" and got an additional gallon of milk with the in-ad coupon.  At the register a coupon printed off for another free Starbucks drink.  It doesn't expire until November, so that'll be a nice treat for me when I go shopping one day :).

2.  Well, via my previous post I only spent about 1/2 of my reduced grocery budget on groceries this week.  I also, through CAREFUL saving, already had the money set aside for my order to go through this month, so I didn't need to cancel any of that due to my financial "whoops" and just transferred the money from one account to the other to cover it.  I then waited until today, after the final "you can't mess with your order anymore and anything further will go onto next month" to put together some of my order for next month so I didn't feel like I was parting with the price of a small child all in one month.  I like to do it this way when I have things I know I'll need to buy because then I can just pop over to my Subscribe and Save screen to see if anything has gone on super discount during the month so I can re-order and cancel my higher priced items and get everything at rock bottom prices (I'm so so cheap that way.  Even if it goes down .50 I'm on it in a heartbeat *laugh*).

3.  I finished two Christmas gifts this week using things I already had around the house (more on that later :).

4.  We went out today to get some sun and to get my son french fries (he hasn't been eating a lot since he got sick) and while we were out we stopped off at the used store.  I found they were having a sale on clothing where a certain tag color was .50 each.  I found a bunch of shirts that still had the tags on them, a new dressy trench coat that will also work great as a Spring/fall coat (which is great because my one coat fits tight in the shoulders, thus is hard for me to get in and out of right now and my other coat has holes and things), some jeans for my son in the next size up and a swim suit top for my daughter in the next size up.  My husband also bought a couple of tools they had.  Total spent:  4.50.  I love sales :).

5.  My son's recliner broke this week and my husband was just too sick to deal with it.  I looked at it and realized that a piece of spring steel had broken and told my husband that I thought we could just re-bend a new piece from it because it was long enough.  My husband thought the steel would just break instead of bend, but I decided (when he wasn't around to lecture me *bwahahaha*) to give bending it a shot anyway.  It worked, although I did beat up my cheapy needle nose pliers a bit bending that stiff of a piece of steel with them.  I don't know how long the fix will last because I really need to remove the entire piece and then re-bend it so the pieces are longer and fit better, but hey for now it's working and that's good enough for me!

6.  My daughter got invited to a friend's birthday party today (actually she got invited to two, but we decided to let her go to the one where we knew the parents, it was nearby and we could just drop her off and pick her up later as my husband and I are both still pretty out of it) and I was kind of scrambling on what to give.  I ended up pulling out a basic leggo block kit (my daughter's friend loves leggos) that I had gotten on a super sale around Christmastime, shoved it into a recycled gift bag and off she went.   I'm just hoping her friend doesn't realize that she is giving him another kit exactly like the one she got him for Christmas, but it was what we could afford right now.

7.  I got my electric bill in the mail and due to the lack of need to run the air conditioner the last month I got to see a 50.00 reduction in the bill (yay!).  This will be a nice lull in the storm of electric bills as the way the weather is going we're definitely going to be firing up the electric heat sometime soon.

8.  I was able to harvest another four cups of peas from my plants before I pulled them.  So, processing peas is on the agenda again.  I still can't get over how well they did this year!  I'm hoping to plant bush beans or runner beans next year if I can find the right growing season beans.  See, as soon as your garden is done for the year start planning the next year's.  It'll see you through the winter months ;).

9.  I repaired some of my daughter's toys this week with the great wonder that is super glue.

10.  I started work on next week's menu plan, which definitely needed to happen.
 So, there's some of my frugal adventures this week.  How about you?  How did you do? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, this week so far has been a week of some severe ups and downs.

First the good!  My son's birthday was probably the best birthday we've ever had with him.  My husband and I went running around last week to the used stores to see what we could find for gifts for him and found a bunch of things to give.  I found a brand new oversized Minion throw still in the package for 5.00 (and they MEANT oversized.  That thing is as big as a twin sized blanket).  A Spongebob DVD with a couple of episodes we don't have for 1.00.  A large scale die cast Mack (from the movie "Cars") for 3.00 that was still new in the box.  Overall my son loved his birthday gifts and has been having a great time playing with them.  He also, for the first time EVER blew out his birthday candles (normally he just tries to grab them and we have to stop him from burning himself) and he also helped to open his gifts.  These were huge steps forward for him and I think Christmas might be a lot more fun as a result.  I'm very, very grateful at the progress he's made.

Now onto the bad. 

Right, say theoretically you screwed up on keeping track of finances.  And then other things happened.  That was me so far this week. 

First, I spaced a payment that was scheduled to come out of the checking account.  Now this is one of the Care Credit payments.  I KNOW it comes out the first week of the month.  Heck I'm the one who schedules it to come OUT of the checking account the first week of the month.  And yet, somehow, I forgot it was coming out this week.  This is, I'm like 99.9% sure the first time EVER that has ever happened to me.  I've been beating myself up pretty good about doing that.  I know I haven't slept in a good month or so more than an hour at a shot and I've been fielding sick husband and son the last little bit on top of everything, but MAN I can't believe I did that!  Just...ugh!!!!

Then my husband had to rush himself to the doctor yesterday as he was not being able to breath with his cold and was worried at one point he was going to pass out.  His cough had been bad over the weekend, so I knew no matter what we were going to have to pay for that as he needed it.  Luckily, after the doctor and the medicine there was enough money in the checking account to cover it all.  Just.  Why do these things always happen on short weeks?

I decided I needed to spend as little money this week as possible on groceries, so perusing the ads I decided that Carrs was definitely the place to go for groceries.  Luckily we didn't need much.  Unfortunately we also needed the usual processed overpriced stuff for my son.

But hey, here's how I got 10 containers of yogurt and two dozen eggs for free!

There is a deal this week where if you buy 10 Oikos yogurts, which are on sale for 10 for 10.00 (of varying types) you can get two freebies, mix and match, of a dozen eggs or a free container of orange juice.  I decided to get the eggs since that will go further for me, meal-wise, than orange juice will.  

I dug through my coupons knowing that I had a bunch of coupons that printed off at the register a while back for 1.00/2 Oikos yogurts and found that I had five of them that weren't expired.  So, I figured, if nothing else, a 5.00 investment and I'd get 10 yogurts and 2 dozen eggs.  When I got into the store, though, I ran by the clearance dairy as I figure they usually have reduced yogurt and maybe I could find some Oikos to make things even cheaper.  And I found TEN (well actually there were more like 30, but I only took ten) on 50% off (or .50 each :).  I used all five coupons to get the 10 yogurts for free and the computer automatically took off the eggs for free once it read 10 yogurts were bought.  So, I ended up getting 10 yogurts and 2 dozen eggs for free.  The yogurts will be going into lunches in the coming weeks and the eggs will be used for cheap dinners this week (sausage pattie and fried egg sandwiches are on the menu tonight) and baking. 

See, holding onto coupons that you don't think you'll ever use sometimes comes in REALLY handy.  I never would have bought Oikos yogurt at regular price as it's pretty spendy, but now thanks to coupons and reductions I have 10 for free.  Totally worth sitting on those coupons for a while!

I also got milk (2.99 on sale with in-ad coupon this week) and the usual soda and chips for the son.  All totaled I spent 24.32 on groceries this week.  Not terrible, especially since I had to buy overpriced processed stuff.  Now to wait for payday so I can breath a bit again. 

How about you?  How did you do this week?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Monthly Goals: September 2016

When it came to goals last week, I got most of them accomplished, mainly because I didn't have many to begin with.  I got some housework done.  Not near as much as I would have liked, but some.  I remembered to ice my arm a lot more, rested it as much as I could with my son home sick and things.  The one thing I DIDN'T get to was working on Christmas gifts, so this week I'm hoping to get some of that done.  But, icing and resting my arm is definitely going to take precedence on everything else as the weather has turned cold and rainy the last couple of days and my arm is hurting bad due to it.  I can't even pull on my socks without tearing up a bit right now.  The arm is hurting pretty good for sure, but at least it's having ups as well as downs where before it just kept getting worse, so here's hoping something good is slowly but surely happening with it.

I'm hoping my arm feels up to doing different things this month, including cleaning walls and carpets as much as I can so that the house is deep cleaned for winter, thus helping to keep the air a bit cleaner and maybe keep us all a bit healthier.  I definitely need to clean out all of the electric baseboard heaters so that they are ready to fire up when the weather starts getting really cold here within the next month, so that's at the top of my cleaning goal list.

Christmas gifts will be one of my goals as well as I really need to start getting going on those now that food preservation is starting to finally slack off schedule-wise.  I do have a few more things to get done, but I will hopefully get those done this week and be done with it.

So, here's this month's goals!

General Goals:
  • Celebrate son's birthday
  • Rest.  Nap.  Ice arm.  Get better!
  • Figure out better system of organization for things, again, to cut down on house clutter.
  • Pull out fall and Halloween decorations.  Put them up. 
  • Work on Christmas Gifts.  Finish at least three of them.
  • Find big things of aida cloth or other course woven fabrics and mess around with Swedish weaving (getting more in touch with my heritage and it kind of looks like fun and actually pretty when done :).
  • Go to fall festival with the kids.  A local farm has a fall festival every year with hay rides, a big hay maze, a pumpkin patch and other fun things to do, but we've always been sick or something (and we've been too broke to afford the 25.00 for the family to get in, honestly).  The last few years they have had a special needs day for kids so that special needs kids can go and have fun at the event without all of the people that jam into the event on the next day.  The event is also free on that day for families of special needs children.  So, I'm hoping to take the kids to it this year as I think they'll have a lot of fun (if the weather and our health permit us to go).

Cleaning Goals:
  • Deep clean baseboard heaters
  • Get ceiling fans cleaned well and vacuumed off (got the living room fan done yesterday, so two more to go).
  • Clean carpets well.
  • Dust.
  • Organize children's rooms better to keep things clean better.
  • Wash windows and closet doors.

Food Preservation Goals:
  • Mull and can apple cider
  • Dehydrate potatoes.
  • Keep eye out for good deal on carrots.  If find one, blanch and freeze some and dehydrate some others.
  • Blanch and freeze the last of peas.

Garden Goals:
  • Wait for peas to die off and then pull them, turn soil, plant onion and garlic starts for Spring and walk away.
So, there you are folks.  Some of my goals for this month (I know I'm missing a couple, but for the life of me I can't find my list).  How about you?  Got anything planned to get done this month?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Shopping Goals: September 2016

First, I want to happily report that my son actually slept last night, so I slept last night.  I feel a lot better today as a result...especially on the cold front. Although I overstretched my arm last night so I'm in a bit of pain this morning.  Luckily 800 mg of Ibuprofen and ice do worlds of good for the arm with no side effects compared to the prescription drugs I had.  

I awoke this morning to melting frost on my deck.  Which means that fall is, officially, here to stay.  We'll see how long the pea plants last after that as they are protected under the eave of the house, but still...frost is frost.  We shall see.  Kind of a neat experiment really.

So, yeah, to get to the point in a round about fashion (with me is there REALLY any other way to get there?) is that peas are not on my shopping list this month *laugh*.

Usually this time of year I'm in full blown planning mode to get the most out of our dividend checks next month and would be working tirelessly figuring out a shopping list and redoing it over and over again until I had it where I wanted it in the hopes I could at least somewhat fill the pantry for less than a grand.  This year I figured I'd be panicking, hard, as dividends are reduced thanks to the governor and already spent for us (winter tires and dental bills oh my!).  But, God's providence shown on us this year and I was able to get great deals on produce and things to help pad out home canned goods in the pantry, there have been awesome sales on meat to stock the freezer and I was able to get enough from the garden and other areas where I have an entire SHELF in my standing freezer packed full of fruits and vegetables on top of my home canned goods (and an entire shelf of my fridge freezer packed full of fruits and veggies too!). I'm feeling pretty darned good about that.

This month my shopping goals are going to be primarily done online, but I do have a few things I want to get at the regular stores, one of which I'm hoping to get today as Fred Meyer has honeycrisp apples on sale for 2.49 lb through today as part of one of their 3 day sales.  Honeycrisp are not only my favorite apple, they are a good storing apple, so I want to get those to stock into the fridge.

With the online shopping, I am putting in a big order with Amazon this month and using money I have carefully set aside every month to stock up the pantry.  Some things I'm ordering because I can't get them safe (or at all) locally, like rye flour for baking dark breads this winter. 

I was going to get some hot chocolate mix and some oats from the LDS cannery, but found their hours to be terrible with my schedule, so I sought other options and actually found some cool stuff!  One is that Swiss Miss hot chocolate, the regular stuff, is actually safe for my son's peanut allergy.  This is HUGE for me as I've been getting really expensive hot cocoa mixes thinking that was my only option (when I wasn't making them myself and all).  I doubt my son will actually drink hot chocolate anytime soon, but I like to be safe either way. 

I was also able to get a bulk thing of Quaker Oats on Amazon one night super cheap, so I have those coming.  I put in a bulk order for Wasa crackers/bread too.  My husband has found that he loves the stuff after I got some to try on my son during feeding therapy and he blows through the stuff.  At nearly 5.00 per package that starts to get cost prohibitive.  He actually asked for it in bulk as he likes the crackers/flat bread better than chips for a snack.  Works for me as it's a lot healthier!  And I've loved Wasa bread since I was a kid as it was one of my dad's favorite crackers too.  It's over HALF the price on Amazon compared to buying the packages at the store, so it's worth buying it there.

So, here we go.  Shopping goals for this month!

Fred Meyer
  • Honeycrisp apples
  • Puff Pastry (I know you can make this yourself, but I want some for desserts in the freezer and with the price of butter and the labor involved?  I find buying it to just be simpler and cheaper) 

  • Big thing of chicken boullion
  • Local Carrots (if I can't find a good deal on them at the produce stand) blanch and freeze a few more for winter.
  • Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix (Maybe.  Going to comp shop that at Fred Meyer today to see if the big cans are available and how expensive they are)
  • Quaker Oats
  • Rye Flour (bulk)
  • Flax Seeds (for bread baking)
  • Wasa Bread, bulk
  • Vanilla pudding mix (ran into 24 boxes super cheap on Subscribe and Save, so I'm hoping this will help to finish up the pudding stores for winter...I can add cocoa powder to make chocolate pudding if I need to ;).
  • Cream of Chicken Soup, bulk (family does not like the SOS mix made into cream of chicken soup, although I can't really tell the difference and we've run out)
Toward the end of the month I'll also keep my eye out for good deals on a pumpkin for Halloween next month (I find if I buy early and carefully I don't end up with a rotten pumpkin come Halloween...pumpkins are not great quality once they get up here.  At all) and also any good deals on pie pumpkins as well as I find the pumpkin from those SO much tastier than the canned pumpkin.  Worse comes to worse, though, canned pumpkin it will be.

And there you are folks.  My shopping goals for this month.  What about you?  Got anything on your list to buy?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and (Surprisingly) Garden Update

First, I just wanted to apologize.  Normally I try to reply to people who comment on my posts, but this week I just plain haven't been up to it and I just wanted to let people know that yes, I have read all of the comments, I just wasn't up to replying to anyone.  It's been a week where my son is sick with a cold, thus no sleep for mom at all.  Then trying to crash on various items upstairs didn't work at all well for my arm.  So, I ended up being exhausted, fighting off a cold with an arm that was killing me all week long.  *Thumbs up* so, so much awesome.  The last couple of days my body just kind of said, "Um, no" in it's own way and I ended up taking naps whether I liked it or not, which was hard yesterday as I was dozing off in ten minute increments and would jerk awake when my son, who was home sick, would hit me with something to get my attention.  I've also been icing my arm a lot as I've found it helps a LOT if I remember to do that.  I also gave up on taking the anti-inflammatory drugs as I found that I had a supreme sense of foggy head on them and I didn't like it, especially when it came to me that I hadn't even thought of the status of the checking account and bills were coming due (thank goodness it was fine to make the mortgage).  Just kind of an off week for me, really. 

So far *knock on wood* my daughter has remained healthy (and has been faithfully taking her vitamins) because my husband has now come down with the cold and is just plain down and out because of it.  I'm picturing a very hard weekend as the way he is right now I'm thinking he's going to be down all weekend, which means I get to somehow run errands and things even though I'm not supposed to be driving much.  Just...ugh.

Anyway, onto money saving this week :).

1.  Grocery shopping...well it went this week.  I overspent because I wasn't keeping good track of what I was spending, which I do blame on a combination of pain, exhaustion and the drugs I was on.  Bright side though, I did get some great deals despite it all.

Fred Meyer has apple juice on sale for 1.25 per bottle with their in-ad coupon this week, a maximum of 4.  I checked out in more than one order and got 10 bottles.  This should last us quite a while (seen up top).  In with the 10 bottles I got two bottles of apple cider.  I'm going to mull and can it instead of the fresh stuff I buy in the fall.  Why?  Because it'll still taste good and it'll be a LOT cheaper to do.  I'll hang my head in shame over it later *laugh*.

We ended up going into a neighboring town that doesn't have sales tax, so that saved us some money too.  And while there I was able to find two bags of water softening salt on reduced because the bags had small tears in them for 3.49 each!  I didn't need salt right now, but it was too good of a deal to pass up.

I've found that my pantry is overflowing, mainly due to all of my home canning I got done this year and it taking up shelves I would normally use to house commercially canned goods and things (woohoo!), so I've ended up commandeering part of my den to accommodate some of my food storage for now.  I reallocated an old food storage box that I'd used said food storage from and used it to store some cans of peaches and pears as well so I don't have to climb on my hands and knees to the very back of the pantry to get to the commercially canned fruit.  My knees will thank me later, although I'm sure my husband isn't exactly thrilled with me storing food in the den.  Ah well :).

2.  I was worried I might have to put my old cat down.  She had been having a continuing issue (like every day) where she'd use the laundry room as a litter box for solid matter (the catbox is in the laundry room so it was nearby).  On one hand I didn't want to put her down because she was old or anything, but I wasn't sure what to do as it was SO unsanitary and honestly I was getting fed up cleaning my floor with bleach every morning before my first cup of coffee.  I finally decided to try and take the lid off of our catbox, wondering if maybe she'd just gone senile enough that she forgot she needed to use it for that or if the lid was making it hard for her to get in and out of the box or what.  Luckily, it worked.  So, hopefully that expense (emotional and financial) got kicked down the road for a while.

3.  Well, I can safely say that I didn't go anywhere or do much of anything this week, other than working slowly on housework and things, so that definitely saved me money I'm sure.

4.  I finally started to watch the first series in the Farm series on You Tube ("Tales from the Green Valley" I believe it's called) and it's actually kind of neat to see younger Alex, Ruth and Peter (or should I say "Fonz") running around.  It was funny, I've seen Peter just get greyer and greyer as the different series progressed, so I just assumed he was older than me, and so I went and looked up his bio only to find he and Alex are younger than me *laugh*.  It always cracks me up the way that works with men especially...looks can definitely deceive.
5.  The garden still lives!  Well, the peas are anyway.  I can't believe it.  The turnips and beets have been wiped out by the slugs (even with the sun we've gotten this last week you can watch them literally rise up from the ground as soon as the sun starts to go down in the's disturbing and disgusting!).  Those pea plants are incredible!  Indestructible!  Insane!!!  The bottom of the plants are basically skeletons from where the slugs have gotten to them and just eaten the leaves clean off of them.  They bent over in some robust wind we got earlier in the week and ended up with the tops of the plants touching the ground and the slugs started to eat on those too.  There is powdery mildew all over the plants and even those that aren't covered in the stuff are turning yellow and just starting to die off.

And yet.  And yet!  I go out every couple of days expecting the plant to be done, only to find handfuls more peas to be had.  I mean just in the last four days I got the bowl of peas above.  Like four cups worth!  It's spectacular.  I told my husband he's just going to have to really start to like peas as we have a ton to use over winter *laugh*.

6.  Speaking of peas and finding uses for them, while on Amazon I found an actual CHEAP copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2" so I ordered it earlier and it came in this week (it was less than 5.00 shipped).  I loved it so much that I went and spent 10.00 (after shipping) to get the first volume used on Amazon.  There are a lot of great soup recipes, including pea soup recipes, that sound really good.  And turnip recipes and all kinds of things including some recipes for canned crab meat to make a crab bisque (sounds good to me).  I'm super thrilled with the book, obviously, and can see why so, so many chef's consider these necessary books in their culinary library.  Buying the first volume not on rock bottom prices probably wasn't the most frugal thing in the world, but variety in recipes when the winter gets long and dark?  Yeah, that's worth it's weight in gold.

7.  My sage plant is still producing and I think I might actually be able to get another decent harvest of sage to dry before the frost sets in.  I keep thinking of transplanting the sage and seeing what happens, but keep deciding against it as the cats just kill live plants in the house so fast that I don't think it'd make it.  But yay for more sage either way!

8.  When I got the apple juice and cider at Fred Meyer I also got my free Carmex from freebie Friday.  This will definitely come in handy when cold weather hits!  My husband stopped off at Carrs and got some rolls earlier in the week to go with dinner (was not up to making bread) and when he gave me the coupons that had printed off at the register there was a coupon for a free Starbucks Refresher drink.  I got that when I went to the store to pick up one of my daughter's prescriptions and drank it with my lunch that day at home.  Well, for a drink that says that green coffee has so much more caffeine and that the drink would keep you awake?  It didn't work.  At all.  But, the Strawberry Lemonade flavor does taste good, even at room temperature (they recommend on the can to drink it over ice, but I didn't bother), in case anyone else ends up with one of those coupons.

9.  I went out and checked the ground and it's so very wet still that I gave up on transplanting rhubarb this fall for fear the poor plants would actually rot at the root and die (and honestly I'm thinking it's going to take me a bit to recoup my arm, so I wasn't thrilled at the idea of using a shovel anytime soon either).  I'll aim to transplant next spring instead when the plants are in the mode to start growing in wet soil conditions anyway.  I went and just picked what I could off of my rhubarb plant at the bottom of the yard as I'm transplanting it in the Spring anyway, so I really don't care how robust it comes back come Springtime next year and honestly, I was ticked that the slugs were crawling all over it and trying to kill it off, so I felt like I was liberating food from the grips of the slimy disgusting little critters.

So, yeah, that's about the extent of what I've been up to this week.  How about you all?  Any frugal adventures to report?